Stephanie Mayer is famous for her Twilight Saga. The intricate web of love, honour, suspicion and hate kept everyone captivated throughout 4 books and 5 films. While I certainly don’t think the Twilight books are well written or that ingenious of an idea they do have a type of magic about them that keeps you hooked. The Host, has nothing to do with Vampires or Werewolves. It’s about Aliens. Now don’t panic. It’s not your typical little green men type book. It’s all the best parts of Twilight mixed with a new idea and written well. Plus it’s apparently set to be a trilogy with “The Soul” and “The Seeker” becoming the second and third.
We start of meeting some form of Healer who as his title suggests, has just finished healing a body and implanting a ‘Soul’. We witness the body’s final moments as a human and see the terror that these ‘Souls’ have brought to the few remaining humans on earth. Our ‘Soul’ awakens to find her Seeker scrutinising her every movement and wants to know all of the humans memories. The healer names the ‘Soul’ Wanderer and we see her become frustrated with her inability to control her Hosts previous mind. She begins to worry if this means she isn’t strong enough for this world, ironic as her name comes from the fact that she has been to 9 other planets (unusual for Souls). We discover that her Host’s name is Melanie Stryder and she is in love with a man named Jared and has a younger brother, Jamie. Wanderer and Mel join forces on their dislike of the Seeker and embark on a journey together to find Mel’s Uncle Jeb (an extreme believer in conspiracy theories meaning he was able to disappear off the grid with the first invasion of Souls). Through their journey, Wanderer falls in love with Jared and Jamie due to Mel’s memories and the fact that the body loves them so alters Wanderer’s mental feelings.
They both find Jeb’s hideout and we come face to face with real humans. However, all the humans are distrustful of Wanderer as she is,
afterall, a Soul who has taken over Melanie’s body. Jared saves them but only through his inability to allow the body he loves to die.Within the commune, Kyle and his bother Ian try every day to see if Jared has left a gap in the defence of Wanderer to kill her. Eventually, the commune needs supplies and as Jared is the only one who is able to take a group of people and get them back alive as well as get all the supplies needed, he sets off with Kyle while Jeb promises to keep Wanderer safe until his return. During Jareds absence, Jamie comes to visit Wanderer and grows to love Wanderer as a separate person to Mel and is able with his young mind to talk to Wanderer and Mel as individuals enabling him to accept this new, strange way of family. With a twist, Ian begins to have feelings for Wanderer the Soul, not Wanderer in Mel’s body and here lies the crux of the story. Wanderer and Ian love each other, Mel and Jared love each other, only problem is 2 of them have the same body.
I loved this book. It’s far far better than Twilight. I don’t know if because we see the world through something which is technically a few thousands year old instead of 17 or because Mayer has improved as a writer but her prose is much better than in the Twilight saga. Every character is understandable and due to this we can relate to them. The love ‘box’ of Wanderer, Mel, Jared and Ian is beautifully created and grows as you read. Ian was meant to be a background character who hates Wanderer all the way through the storyline but Mayer found that his personality was too difficult to ignore and seemed to shout at her to allow him to grow and evolve into this man who Wanderer herself says has “the mind of a Soul with the strength of a Human”. I am so glad Mayer was unable to ignore his shouts as he is one of the best characters in this book.
The relationship of Mel and Wanderer is similar to that of Eragon and Saphira in the Inheritance Cycle as they talk to each other and relay information through pictures and memories. Although only one body for two minds, they begin to develop an understanding and form a relationship closer to that of sisters as they battle the prejudices and hatred against them.
Jeb and Jamie are important to the storyline as they are the only two people to fully accept Wanderer/Mel as a package deal but through very different eyes. Jamie is very naive and is desperate to be a man where as Jeb is the leader of the commune and has the ability to understand everyone’s motives and arguments but continues down his own moral road.
It is these characters interactions and relationships which make this books so interesting and a joy to read. There are no epic battles and very few dramatic encounters but the subtle shift in feeling and prejudices towards Wanderer is a fascination to watch and you feel part of this life. You love, laugh and live with the characters and it is this fact alone which makes ‘The Host’ one of the best books I’ve read in a while. I cannot wait for the sequels, although I am apprehensive of a change in narrator as we witness the goings on in ‘The Host’ through Wanderer’s eyes and I would hope we stick to Wanderer or someone within the commune so we know what happens to Wanderer and co. A total change of characters but within the same world wouldn’t be able to encapsulate the magical bonds that we find with these characters and in my opinion, that would reduce the enjoyment level of the books. However, they haven’t been written yet so no point analysing them to early!
This book gets a score of 10/10. I’d recommend it to anyone. Read it. Or watch the new film that is set to hit cinemas at the end of this month!